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Politics & Policy

Mayor refuses to sign Gaza cease-fire resolution passed by supervisors

San Francisco Mayor London Breed, dressed in a purple speaks to the media during a press conference in City Hall. She stands in a wood paneled room with the American flag in the background.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Friday refused to sign a non-binding resolution for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. | Source: Michaela Vatcheva for The Standard

Mayor London Breed refused to sign a controversial cease-fire resolution on the war in Gaza on Friday after previously saying that language approved by supervisors had “inflamed division and hurt” in San Francisco and did not reflect the entire community’s values.

An official for the clerk of the board confirmed to The Standard that Breed returned the resolution unsigned, meaning it will go into effect without her support. The mayor could have vetoed the resolution, sparking another controversial vote that was sure to rile supporters on both sides of the debate.

“Since the Board of Supervisors introduced their Gaza ceasefire resolution, and certainly since they passed it last week, our city has been angrier, more divided, and less safe. Sadly, that may have been the point,” Breed wrote in a memo explaining her decision not to sign the resolution. “Their exercise was never about bringing people together; it was about choosing a side. And while late amendments mitigated this, the damage was already done.”

On Jan. 9, the Board of Supervisors passed a nonbinding resolution calling for “a sustained ceasefire” in Gaza by an 8-3 vote. The tense vote followed multiple chaotic meetings in which hundreds of community members showed up at City Hall to express support and opposition to the resolution, which was approved four months into the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

READ MORE: Scuffle Breaks Out During Cease-Fire Debate at City Hall

The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas killed almost 1,200 Israelis and led to roughly 250 people being taken hostage. Since that time, the counteroffensive by Israeli military forces has killed more than 24,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

The resolution, which Supervisor Dean Preston initially proposed in early December before revisions by Board President Aaron Peskin, follows similar resolutions passed in Oakland, Detroit, Dallas and dozens of other cities. 

In a text message Friday evening, Peskin said that Breed “chickened out” by not signing or vetoing the resolution.

A key sticking point for the three supervisors who opposed the resolution—Catherine Stefani, Matt Dorsey and Rafael Mandelman—centered on the absence of language explicitly calling for the removal of Hamas in Gaza, as well as condemnation of reported rapes and sexual violence against Israeli women during the Oct. 7 attack. The resolution instead calls for “new leadership on both sides” while also noting an investigation should look into “gender based violence.”

Breed’s decision not to sign or veto the resolution relieves pressure on supervisors who would have needed to take another vote to override the veto and pass the resolution. Sources in the Mayor’s Office said that Supervisors Joel Engardio and Myrna Melgar had conversations with Breed asking her not to veto the resolution. Neither Engardio nor Melgar responded to requests for comment.

Community members calling for the resolution have called the Israeli counterattack inhumane due to the thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been killed in the war, many of whom are women and children. Those opposed to the resolution, including members of the Jewish community, argued that the resolution is unnecessarily divisive and that nonbinding resolutions on international conflicts are a waste of taxpayer time. 

Breed issued a statement last week expressing her disappointment with the resolution after the mayor of Haifa—San Francisco’s sister city in Israel since 1973—sent a letter to the mayor condemning the board’s decision and urging a veto. Breed visited Haifa last year on a Sister City trip.

“I cannot watch us divide ourselves even more. A leader, like a doctor, should be guided by the basic ethos of ‘do no harm,’ to not make a bad situation worse,” Breed wrote in her statement. “The Board of Supervisors has put us in this terrible position and, unfortunately, after much consideration and prayer, the best thing I can do is try to quell it, try to turn down the volume and begin the healing. I must choose unity.”